Tuesday, August 19, 2008

France... take two

After the great success of the first day trip to France, we couldn't help but consider another one. Laurent first mentioned the idea of going back - this time to the mountains instead of the sea, a couple days after the first trip. We all started thinking about it, but didn't make a final decision. Some people started getting worried about the amount of work they had to do, but Laurent and I were still considering it. Things stayed like that until the morning we were thinking of going, when I woke up and asked Laurent, "So, should we go to France today?" We decided the answer was "Yes."

Since we had put off the decision to the last second, we didn't have a car, and we were having trouble finding on online. Instead we just went to Sans Estacio and started going to rental places. Hertz was completely out of cars. National was also out of cars. At this point, since there are only four car offices, I was really getting nervous we wouldn't be able to get a car. However, our next stop was at Avis, and they saved the day. Not only did they have a car, they had a bright yellow Mini Cooper Clubman. So we headed off to France in style.Our first stop was in Ceret - a really cute town in the French Pyrennes. Brice and his girlfriend, Dyani, were already in France, so we called them to meet up for lunch. While we were waiting we sat at Cafe de France, and I tried my first class of Kir. Kir is white wine with blueberry liqueur, and is apparently a very common drink in France. It was really good.Brice and his girlfriend arrived and also had a drink, and then we headed to a restaurant for lunch. Laurent and I shared a chef's salad and a goat cheese salad. I also learned a French phrase: "Vous avez un coca light s'il vous plait?" So now I can order diet coke in France.After lunch we left town and drove farther into the mountains. We chose a trail and went hiking for a while to get some exercise and enjoy the views.Next we headed to a town called Thuir. It was another cute mountain town. We went to the Bhyrr factory, where they brew various liqueurs. It's also home to the largest oak barrel in the world - used to brew a consistent product.We wandered around town, and at one point took a break for a short driving lesson. I really want to learn how to drive a manual car, so I practiced starting and stopping along the streets of Thuir. Laurent was pretty patient with the multiple tries it took to get the car moving after we stopped each time, and I think by the end I was doing much better.

Our last activity in Thuir, and in France, for the day, was to get dinner. Once again, the French guys did a great job of finding a restaurant, and dinner was amazing. I had mussels with almonds, fish with pistachio, eggplant, zucchini and rice, and then finished the meal with an espresso.Though we'd gone to France for the day, we still had work to do, so we spent most of our drive home working on writing our sections of the report. By the time we were back in Barcelona, we were finished with our work and had a great (second) day trip to France!

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